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Investors will look to Apple's earnings call this afternoon for insight into iPhone X demand and how much overseas cash it may bring back to the states.

Here are the 3 big things we'll be paying attention to.

1. How's iPhone X demand?

  • This is the way-more-than-$64,000-question. Apple (and investors) are counting on the high-end phone to generate a "super cycle" of higher-than-typical upgrade rates and selling prices.
  • Recent reports have suggested production cuts, but longtime Apple watchers know such reports have a decidedly mixed track record.

2. How will Apple use all that repatriated cash?

  • Expect Apple to talk about buyback and dividend strategy and, if tradition is any guide, say little about its acquisition plans.
  • Historically, Apple tends to say the same thing: It buys lots of little companies and, while it hasn't done a lot of big ones, isn't philosophically opposed.

3. Where's Apple placing its bets?

  • It's hard to know just how much insight we will get, but as always, we'll be watching for any sign of where Apple is putting its time and energy.
  • Though it doesn't typically comment on future stuff, there's a chance Apple could make a nod to the shift toward quality and performance that it is making for this year's big software releases.
  • The company also sometimes gives oblique hints on whether to expect it to go into "new categories" or not.

Other indicators:

  • Services has been the fastest growing part of Apple's business and closely watched by Wall Street.
  • In the August-to-October quarter, Apple finally showed some improvement in China. It will be interesting to see how the December quarter went in that regard.
  • The numbers: Analysts are expecting Apple to report per-share earnings of $3.82 on revenue of $86.3 billion, per Zacks.

Go deeper

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas case, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

Officials warn 5 key tech sectors will determine whether China overtakes U.S.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. intelligence officials responsible for protecting advanced technologies have narrowed their focus to five key sectors: artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, semiconductors and autonomous systems.

Why it matters: China and Russia are employing a variety of legal and illegal methods to undermine and overtake U.S. dominance in these critical industries, officials warned in a new paper. Their success will determine "whether America remains the world’s leading superpower or is eclipsed by strategic competitors."

5 hours ago - Health

Pfizer says COVID vaccine over 90% effective in kids

Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said their COVID-19 vaccine was more than 90% effective at protecting children between the ages of 5 and 11 from symptomatic infections from the virus, according to a study posted online by the FDA Friday.

Why it matters: Pfizer is seeking an emergency use authorization to vaccinate children — one of the last groups of Americans still largely ineligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine.